Earth Day 2016: Staying Green as We Grow

earth-day

Growth is a familiar story at Equinix because we continuously look to deliver interconnection capacity ahead of customer demand. But it’s difficult to grow without consuming more power, so our pledge on Earth Day, and every day, is this: As we consume more energy, we will always be guided by our commitment to higher efficiency and minimal environmental impact.

Looking ahead, rapidly increasing data traffic and consumer expectations for anywhere, anytime, any device connectivity make heavy interconnection demand inevitable. We’re preparing for this with expansions in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas. We are doing this with our environmental commitments as our guiding principles.

Shared Value

The data center industry is energy-intensive. Our energy use comes with obligations to our customers, employees and the communities we live and work in. We strive to balance those with our obligations to our shareholders. As we look for innovative ways to operate sustainably, we are guided by our principle of “shared value.”

Put simply, this means that we will only implement new green technologies that benefit all our stakeholders. We will never compromise our promise to our customers to keep the power on under all circumstances. But there is plenty of room to keep that promise while improving efficiency and deploying renewable energy and alternative energy technologies globally, such as our solar panels in Singapore, fuel cells in Silicon Valley and groundwater cooling in Amsterdam.

So what does this all look like as we expand? In the case of our acquisitions, it means an extensive vetting of every facility we incorporate into the Equinix footprint and doing whatever we can to improve our efficiency and decrease our impact on the environment.

Take, for example, our recent acquisition of 34 facilities from European data center provider Telecity. This was a company that was already deeply committed to sustainability, and we are currently looking for opportunities to enhance our efforts there, knowing different regions will present different challenges. For instance, our options in Sofia, Bulgaria, will be more limited than in places such as Helsinki, where the choice of renewable energy sources is more developed and diverse. In every market, we will choose the most appropriate and readily available renewable energy sources and technologies that enable us to stay true to our shared value principle.

When we build new data centers, such as the four we’re opening in 2016, our emphasis will be to make them as efficient/green as possible during the design process. Our new SP3 data center in Sao Paulo, for instance, uses an efficient evaporative air cooling solution and a solar energy capture system. It will be a model of sustainability in a hot, humid climate.

Driven by a Promise

A year ago today, Equinix went public with our long-term commitment to power our entire data center platform with clean and renewable energy. Our substantial progress toward that goal is highlighted by long-term agreements to purchase power from two brand new wind farms in Texas and Oklahoma.

But we aren’t done yet, and we are continuing to look for other ways to reach our goal. In 2015, we consumed about 2,600 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy, and even without inorganic growth, we estimate our energy consumption grows about 10% a year. However, our green operational practices have also helped us avoid using about 32,500 kilowatts annually, which could power more than 26,000 U.S. residential homes for a year.

The promise to be 100% clean and renewable keeps us vigilant, accountable and actively exploring new technologies and renewable energy projects. We also know that our growing buying power has the potential to influence vendors, alternative energy suppliers and even utilities towards more environmentally responsible electricity generation.

The drive towards sustainability at Equinix is defining who we are every day. We realize this is a journey, not a destination. As we grow, we’re excited to discover the world of opportunity ahead as we maximize efficiency and help guide our industry toward a more sustainable future.